Pontas at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Ten years ago, Jessica Craig attended her first Edinburgh Book Festival and out of all the years she has been since then, she feels this time was the best. It was the most international programme Edinburgh has ever presented and Director Nick Barley says it was also the most successful with record ticket and book sales.

It was wonderful to be together with Chigozie Obioma and his editor, Elena Lappin, in the authors’ yurt and at a special dinner to celebrate The Fishermen and the four prize lists it is on (Man Booker Prize longlist, Guardian First Book Award longlist, FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices shortlist, and Center For Fiction First Novel Prize shortlist).

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A sold-out audience enjoyed hearing Chigozie with Economist literary editor Fiammetta Rocco and fellow debut author Simon Sylvester. And Chigozie’s second event, with Argentinian author Carlos Gamerro, Gods & Monsters: Where Tragedy & Satire Meet, was an electrifying discussion with profound insights and hearty laughter about how classical themes and imagery are now flourishing in post-colonial novels. To hear Charlotte Higgins, chief culture writer of The Guardian, and the brilliant classicist Edith Hall share their passion for The Fishermen, drawing out the echoes of Aeschylus and Homer, and to hear Chigozie describe being a schoolboy in Nigeria rushing to his library every day to read The Odyssey at noon over his lunchbreak until he finished it after two months (it wasn’t one of the books you were allowed to take home) was an experience to be cherished.

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Jessica also enjoyed conversing with authors such as Ahmet Altan, Jesús Carrasco, Max Porter, and Andrew Miller; and in between events was also a good chance to see editors, scouts and agents up from London. Chigozie Obioma was the only Pontas Literary & Film Agency author in this year’s programme, but Pontas sold translation rights for Hyeonseo Lee’s memoir, The Girl With Seven Names, and Jessica was glad to witness her moving speech about escaping North Korea. Jessica returned to Barcelona with a suitcase full of new books and a mind bright with inspiring encounters.

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